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Dash playoff push continues with visit from Angel City: What to watch for

The Dash host Angel City FC, looking to go into first place in the NWSL standings.

NWSL: Houston Dash at Angel City FC Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Dash return from the international break to welcome Angel City FC to PNC Stadium tonight. The Dash are coming off a 2-2 draw at home against the Weshington Spirit on August 27. Angel City beat Gotham FC in their last NWSL match on August 28. They played a friendly against the Mexican National Team, and Dash forward Maria Sanchez, losing 2-0 on Monday night. The Dash and Angel City met earlier this season in Los Angeles with the match ending in a 0-0 draw.

Singer takes over

Earlier this week the Houston Dash introduced the first general manager in club history, Alex Singer. She joins the team after five years with Octagon where she helped grow the agency’s footprint in women’s soccer. Singer previously played seven seasons of professional soccer, including one season with the Washington Spirit. Singer does not have as much to do as this season concludes but she has big plans for the Dash going forward. “I don’t think there’s a ceiling,” Singer said in her introductory press conference. “I think this is a really interesting time in the season and an interesting season that has happened already with lots of challenges and transitions for the players. And for the players to go out and be able to perform on the field like they have and win, and not only win but perform very well, if the product is a good soccer product, is it just shows how strong that these players are that the organization is as a whole. And if that is where we’re starting out coming in, in my role, I truly believe that there’s no ceiling here. I think you know all of the energy and focus right now is being put into securing a spot in the playoffs. Each game is important and each point is crucial. But that said, you know, (making the) playoffs is just the start. I think we have very big goals for not only this season, but for next season and for seasons to come. And I think we’re going to take that one step at a time, but we’re starting off there. I’m starting off. I’m lucky to be walking into a situation that we have a lot of talent on and off the pitch. And I’m going to be working really closely with (president) Jessica (O’Neill), with (interim head coach) Juan (Carlos Amorós) and the rest of the staff to try and bring more world class talent to Houston and to really put Houston on as a showcase and really show what a destination Houston is to get more world class players here.”

Big stakes

Houston can finish this weekend in first place in the NWSL standings if they beat Angel City tonight. With only four games remaining before the playoffs, every game is huge for the Dash as they try and make the postseason for the first time in club history. Only four points seperate first through sixth in the table, and Angel City is just two points further back, but have two games in hand on most of the teams above them. So, do the players feel the pressure as they try and make club history? “I think there is a little bit of pressure, there’s always going to be pressure at this point in the season,” defender Katie Naughton said this week. “Given what happened to us last year, I think we’re all just hungry. We just want to really make these last few games, a stamp on the season that we’ve had so far. It’s a pressure just to really see this through. I don’t think anyone underestimates the importance of these games. We’re still trying to have fun in the process, embracing these moments and really just digging in deep and diving into it headfirst.”

Globetrotters return

The Dash’s contingency of international players return after seeing action aroudn the globe last week. Houston had five players with their national teams for international friendlies and World Cup qualifying matches. Nichelle Prince and Sophie Schmidt joined Canada in New Zealand and picked up 1-0 and 2-1 victories. Ebony Salmon, who earned her second career call up to the England National Team, was available off the bench for both matches against Austria and Luxembourg. Michelle Alozie and Nigeria took on the USWNT in a pair of friendlies where Alozie started both matches. Newcomer Tierrny Wiltshire traveled to South Korea with the Jamaican Women’s National team for a friendly on September 3. Wiltshire earned a start in the match against South Korea.

Availability Report

Houston Dash - Out: Annika Schmidt (right knee - season-ending injury), Kelcie Hedge (right knee - season-ending injury), Makamae Gomera-Stevens (left knee - season-ending injury), Caprice Dydasco (yellow-card accumulation); Questionable: Allysha Chapman (right leg), Cali Farquharson (right leg)

Angel City FC – No report